HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers were expected to approve sweeping new restrictions on weapons and large-capacity magazines on Wednesday, a response to the Newtown school shooting that will give the state some of the country's tightest gun control laws.
The December massacre of 26 people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, which reignited a national debate on gun control, set the stage for changes in the state that may have been impossible elsewhere: The governor, who personally informed parents that their children had been killed that day, championed the cause, and legislative leaders, keenly aware of the attention on the state, struck a bipartisan agreement they want to serve as a national model.
"The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response, demands a response that transcends politics," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., a Democrat. "It is the strongest and most comprehensive bill in the country."
The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan 26-10 vote following a respectful and at times somber six-hour debate Wednesday evening. The House of Representatives then debated the bill and was expected to vote later in the night. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign it into law.
The legislation adds more than 100 firearms to the state's assault weapons ban and creates what officials have called the nation's first dangerous weapon offender registry as well as eligibility rules for buying ammunition. Some parts of the bill would take effect immediately after Malloy's signature, including background checks for all firearms sales.
Connecticut will join states including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts in having the country's strongest gun control laws, said Brian Malte, director of mobilization for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.